Hello and welcome to Trending, Business Insider’s weekly look at the world of tech. I’m Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider’s West Coast Bureau Chief and Global Tech Editor. If you want to get Trending in your email inbox every Wednesday, just click here.
This week: What’s one more decade when you’re Reed Hastings?
“To be totally clear, I’m in for a decade.”
So said newly appointed Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings during the company’s quarterly earnings call on Thursday. Hastings will now share the top job with the company’s longtime content boss Ted Sarandos, but his message was clear: he’s not going anywhere.
To anyone who’s looked at the dismal track record of such dual-CEO arrangements lately, Hastings’ promise may seem improbable. Whether it’s Hastings or Sarandos, one of the pair is unlikely to still be in the job 10 years from now. But Hastings has proven far more prescient than almost any other business leader, so we decided to take a look at what the world will look like in 2030, as Hastings prepares to retire.
- The population of the Earth will be close to 9 billion, according to UN estimates, with 43 “megacities” including India’s “Greater Delhi” and its 39 million residents.
- Computers will possess artificial intelligence equal to human intelligence, according to famed futurist Ray Kurzweil. And China will be the world leader in AI, using it to dominate the military, public governance, and industrial production — at least, that’s if China’s “Made in China 2025” plan succeeds.
- Self driving cars and Flying taxis will ferry people around cities in places like Japan, Korea, and Dubai. But our homes and office buildings will no longer have windows (and your eyesight will suffer greatly) due to strict climate emission standards — if you believe Donald Trump’s recent prophecies.
- And the first base for humans living on Mars will by then be in its third year of existence, according to Elon Musk.
In short, Netflix will have a giant, multi-planetary addressable market to stream videos to (or whatever gets streamed at that point), just as the 69-year-old Hastings hangs up his spurs. I’m not sure if “Grace and Frankie” will still be in production though.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until 2030 to get a taste of the future.
As Eugene Kim reports, Amazon’s secret project building a home robot for consumers is getting closer to reality. There’s even a sales price — potentially exceeding $1,000 — already under discussion.
That would make the waist-high robot, code-named “Vesta” and resembling a “Roomba vacuum-cleaner in human form,” the most expensive gadget in Amazon’s hardware closet. Unlike the unwanted crumbs sucked up by a Roomba however, the Amazon robot might roam your house hoovering up an assortment of private data — a risky proposition for any tech company these days.
So what’s Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos thinking? Besides Bezos’ thing for bots, it’s not entirely clear what’s motivating this initiative. Some speculate the Vesta could test the potential for Amazon to expand its Alexa voice assistants into the market for higher-priced, luxury goods, while simultaneously letting Amazon flex its technical chops.
Not far from Amazon’s Lab126 office where the Vesta robot is being developed, Google’s sister company Verily has been operating in “Code Red.”
As Hugh Langley reports, Code Red is the name for Verily’s efforts involving the coronavirus. And according to insiders that Hugh spoke to, it has not exactly been smooth sailing. Seven day weeks of 12-hour days, constant fire drills, and a culture of fear rule the organization. Speaking out is not only discouraged, it is punished.
Earnings season surprises
Snap’s Q2 results caused a bit of a shiver among investors on Tuesday. Not because the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is taking longer than expected, as IBM attested on Monday, but because the lockdowns didn’t deliver the sustained levels of user engagement that Snap was banking on.
“This initial lift dissipated faster than we anticipated as shelter in place conditions persisted,” said Snap CFO Derek Andersen, explaining the shortfall in Q2’s daily active users. (The report came out on the same day that Business Insider’s Paige Leskin reported that Snap has hired an outside law firm to investigate allegations of discrimination.)
Next up are Microsoft and Tesla, both of which reports their quarterly results on Wednesday. Here’s what to expect:
Just when social media influencers were set to rule the world, the pandemic — and its many disruptions — has put their ascendancy on hold. But, lest marketers be without an influential face to pitch their wares, a special breed of “virtual influencer” has rushed in to fill the void.
Lil Miquela, pictured below, signed a deal with legendary Hollywood talent agency CAA in May. Unlike her flesh and blood counterparts, Miquela doesn’t stop producing new content just because of a virus, explains Kara Weber, president of Brud, the virtual influencer startup that created the celebrity avatar.
“During the COVID pandemic when other artists can’t go anywhere, Miquela can be anywhere,” Weber said, noting her electronic client’s growing popularity with brands seeking to connect with consumers in the “brave new world where we’re all living inside our homes.”
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Not necessarily in tech:
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